What is Spondyloarthritis?

Also know as Rheumatoid spondylitis, Spondylitis or Spondylarthropathy, Spondyloarthritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the joints between the spinal bones and the joints between the spine and the pelvis. It eventually causes the affected spinal bones to join together.

Diseases that fall under spondyloarthritis umbrella are ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis (known previously as Reiter's syndrome) psoriatic arthritis and psoriatic spondylitis, and the arthritis or spondylitis associated with the inflammatory bowel diseases, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Still other patients may develop undifferentiated spondyloarthritis. This means they have symptoms or signs of one of the illnesses above, but don't develop the full blown disease.

The disease most frequently begins between ages 20 and 40, but may begin before age 10. It affects more males than females. Risk factors include a family history of ankylosing spondylitis and male gender.

Symptoms of Spondyloarthris

The disease starts with hip or low back pain that comes and goes and is worse at night, in the morning, or after inactivity.

Back pain may begin in the sacroiliac joints (between the pelvis and the spine) and involve all or part of the spine.

Pain may go away by bending over. You may not be able to fully expand your chest because of the involvement of the joints between the ribs.

Specific symptoms include:

  • Chronic stooping to relieve symptoms
  • Eye inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Heel pain
  • Hip pain and stiffness
  • Joint pain and joint swelling in the shoulders, knees, and ankles
  • Limited expansion of the chest
  • Limited range of motion, especially involving spine and hips
  • Low-back pain that is worse at night, in the morning, or after inactivity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Neck pain
  • Slight fever
  • Stiffness and limited motion in the low back
  • Weight loss

Sources: National Library of Medicine, American College of Rheumatology